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Our registrar Ross Johnston outlines when it's okay for physiotherapists to use the term "specialist" and when it's not.

Posted by Physiotherapy Board on Tuesday, 20 November 2018


What is the Specialist Scope of Practise?

Developed by the Board to recognise physiotherapists who are practising at an advanced level, Physiotherapy Specialists are expected to demonstrate advanced clinical skills and knowledge, and contribute to the profession through leadership and research.

Who can apply?

Prospective applicants must:

  • Hold unrestricted registration in the General Scope of Practise with the Board, and
  • Hold a current Annual Practising Certificate (APC), and
  • Have successfully completed a minimum of a master’s degree that:
    • requires a Aotearoa | New Zealand Bachelor of Physiotherapy (or equivalent) for entry to the degree programme, and
    • is relevant to clinical physiotherapy practice.
  • Meet all of the following recency of practise requirements:
    • at least 1 year of post-qualification, full time employment (FTE) in Aotearoa | New Zealand, and
    • at least 6 years of post-qualification, full-time equivalent (FTE) clinical experience, and
    • at least 4 years of full-time equivalent (FTE) clinical experience relevant to a nominated area of physiotherapy practice in the 10 year period immediately prior to the date of your application.

What does it cost?

Please refer to our Fees Schedule here. Please note that the application fee is non-refundable.

How long does it take?

Once all required documents are confirmed to have been received, Specialist applications are averaging 3-4 months for processing and assessment. Please note these timeframes are subject to change.

To avoid delays in processing your application ensure you include all the required information. Your application may be declined or returned for further work if it is not complete.

What is the process for this application?

Phase 1: Initial Review

After you submit your application, we will review it for completeness. If documents or evidence are missing or we have concerns about your eligibility, we will email you for further information before your application is sent on for processing.

If your application does not meet eligibility criteria for any reason, one of the following will occur:

  • You are given the opportunity to Withdraw your application.
  • Your application is Returned.

If your application is complete and meets eligibility criteria it will move on to Portfolio Assessment.

Phase 2: Portfolio Assessment

We select two assessors with appropriate experience levels in your nominated area of practise. Both assessors and the applicant are contacted to ensure there is no conflict of interest. If there are no issues, your application is sent out for assessment.

If your application does not meet criteria after this initial assessment, you are given an opportunity to provide additional evidence. If it doesn’t meet criteria following reassessment, one of the following will occur:

  • You are given the opportunity to Withdraw your application.
  • We propose to Decline your application.

If your application does meet criteria, your application is put forward for Registration.

Phase 3: Registration

Applications deemed to meet the minimum requirement for registration are sent to our Registrar for approval. Once this is completed you will receive an email confirmation.

Required Documents:

  • *Passport or Birth Certificate
  • *Evidence of Name Change (if applicable)
  • Relating to your Masters physiotherapy degree:
    • *Degree
    • *Academic Transcript
    • *Curriculum
  • CV
  • 2x Case Studies
  • 2x Critical Evaluations
  • Specialist FTE Form
  • Specialist Competency Evidence Template and Marksheet
  • Supporting Evidence

* Document must be certified or sent directly to [email protected] by the issuing authority

Application Resources

Specialisation (information sheet)

Application Guidance notes

Specialist Competencies

Curriculum Vitae

Competency Evidence Template and Marksheet

Case Study (information sheet)

Critical Evaluation of Journal Articles (information sheet)

Specialist FTE Form


Click here to Apply 

If you have any questions, please see our comprehensive help page or contact us via [email protected] or by calling us on +64 4 471 2610 during business hours (9am-5pm NZDT). We can provide advice on the preparation of your application; however, we are not able to advise you on whether or not it will succeed.